August 27, 2007

Scott Horton, We'd Like to Hear a "Who"

In the early hours of Saturday morning, I published an entry regarding a claim made by Harper's contributor Scott Horton.

In an August 24 entry called "Those Thuggish Neocons," Horton described what he claimed was a direct lie by a reporter:

I have no idea whether Beauchamp’s story was accurate. But at this point I have seen enough of the Neocon corner’s war fables to immediately discount anything that emerges from it. One example: back last spring, when I was living in Baghdad, on Haifa Street, I sat in the evening reading a report by one of the core Neocon pack. He was reporting from Baghdad, and recounted a day he had spent out on a patrol with U.S. troops on Haifa Street. He described a peaceful, pleasant, upscale community. Children were out playing on the street. Men and women were out going about their daily business. Well, in fact I had been forced to spend the day “in the submarine,” as they say, missing appointments I had in town. Why? This bucolic, marvelous Haifa Street that he described had erupted in gun battles the entire day. In the view of my security guards, with which I readily concurred, it was too unsafe. And yes, I could hear the gunfire and watch some of the exchanges from my position. No American patrol had passed by and there were certainly no children playing in the street. This was the point when I realized that many of these accounts were pure fabrications.

As I said two days ago, we need to know that those who are providing us information from the front lines are telling the truth to the best they can determine it. Whether you are for this conflict or against it is a matter of opinion, but to develop, reinforce, or change those opinions, we need facts.

If there are reporters who aren't just biased, but flat-out lying, we need to call them out and discredit them.

I sent the following an email to Mr. Horton at on August 25:

Mr. Horton,

I can't claim that Harper's is one of my normal stops, but I was very intrigued by your post today "Those Thuggish Neocons," particularly the paragraph about the reporter who fabricated the Haifa Street report you read.

If you are familiar with my small blog at all (and I'm sure you probably aren't); I often run down false or inaccurate media claims, typically hitting the wire service reporting the hardest, though I've also captured fraud and inaccuracies in newspapers and magazines as well. And yes, I'd readily admit that I have a conservative perspective, but that does not make me so biased that I approach the world with ideological blinders, as this post burning a false pro-Iranian War argument should show.

I was hoping that you would provide me with the date of the story you related as specifically as you can recall, along with the news organization and individual reporter you said was making up this report.

This is pretty obviously unethical and possibly illegal, and I want this resolved quickly.


To date, Mr. Horton has not responded to my query, though he has apparently been online and posting quite heavily; he has posted no fewer than seven blog entries yesterday and so far today. I hope he considers answering.

Since I submitted my first email and wrote my first post on the subject Saturday, a whole host of commenters has chimed in, suggesting certain writers and certain stories may be part of the story that Mr. Horton was referencing, including one of the reporters himself via email (who, as you may well imagine, stood behind his story).

The thing is, most of the stories suggested by both liberal and conservative commenters alike both came from 2007, and in an interview with Democracy Now!, Horton quite clearly shows that he was on Haifa Street for a period of three weeks, and "just returned" at some time prior to the April 14, 2006 interview.

This would seem to limit the time period of these dueling accounts to March or April of 2006.

I'd again like to ask Mr. Horton to tell us who wrote the report he said he read that was one of the "pure fabrications" he recalls.

If so, knowing the date range, I should be able to track down the article in question, and then cross-reference that again other media and military accounts to determine the accuracy of the disputed claim.

We need honesty in media, and need to burn dissemblers, left or right, to the ground.

Don't you agree, Mr. Horton?

Update: In case Mr. Horton's email is full or non-functioning, I've also sent a request in to Giulia Melucci, Harper's Vice President/Public Relations, and asked for her help in resolving this matter.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 27, 2007 10:02 AM

I would be very surprised if the reknowned international human rights lawyer and prolific blogger (757 No Comment pieces in 2007 to date according to Harper's)would do a "chuck and duck" with an accustation such as that. For a man who publicly proclaims his favorite blog to be Andrew Sullivan's, I am certain he will have the integrity to follow up on his charges.

Posted by: daleyrocks at August 27, 2007 10:17 AM

I suspect he's doing a little Beauchamping of his own here.

If he spent 3 weeks living on Haifa street, there certainly should have been a number of dispatches for Harpers filed describing the conditions there.

Then again, maybe he was consumed with hard hitting reporting on the intricacies and subtleties involved in the local basket weaving trade.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at August 27, 2007 10:42 AM

PA - In 2006, he was working on getting a CBS cameraman released from detention. If he was there in 2007, perhaps he was just sipping green tea in imitation of Broadway Joe Wilson.

Posted by: daleyrocks at August 27, 2007 10:56 AM

Wouldn't it be a hoot if Horton was lying about someone else lying?

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at August 27, 2007 12:10 PM

I agree. It's difficult to believe a neocon would lie about Iraq. Horton must be roasted for this.

Posted by: bobo at August 27, 2007 12:56 PM


It's hard to believe anyone would like about Iraq. Especially an American, and especially an American who cloaks himself in the journalist's cloak of objectivity.

We expect journalists to tell us the truth. The truth as they see it is just fine, as long as it's the truth.

If Horton believes that Kristol, Kagen or whoever was not being honest, then he owes it to his readers to identify the piece in question and lay out his case for why he thinks that story is false.

This is not about ideology. It's about the integrity of an institution of democracy.

Show some intellectual honesty, if that's at all possible.

Posted by: Dave at August 27, 2007 01:19 PM

I'll be surprised if Horton responds beyond a vague self-righteous swipe about how the neocons are now attacking him.

Posted by: huxley at August 27, 2007 01:25 PM

Hi CY, just posting a test comment.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at August 27, 2007 02:03 PM

That has to be one of the best blog headlines ever. Even if you didn't have a legitimate post to follow it (and you do), you would have had to invent one, just to use that headline.

As quick as folks were to burn John McCain over his exaggerations of Iraqi safety and security, it would be very surprising if this alleged neocon reporter had not been called out immediately.

But, as you say, better late than never. Produce the alleged offender, and if he can't defend himself, well, "Boil that dust speck," I believe was the chant in the animated version of the Seuss classic.

Posted by: notropis at August 27, 2007 02:26 PM

Oh, and from Horton's original:

"This was the point when I realized that many of these accounts were pure fabrications."

Not until then? And from that one single incident he realized that "many" accounts were pure fabrications? The scales dropped from his eyes, and he suddenly knew that the neocons were capable of lying.

When you actually analyze the content of what these folks say, rather than simply absorbing the tone, you are left scratching your head.

Posted by: notropis at August 27, 2007 02:34 PM

Facing two camps of opposing ideologies I find only one that is willing to denounce wrong regardless of which camp the wrong-doer belongs. Conservatives, as a general rule, stand by their convictions and want leadership and information that is both right and true. Liberals, again as a general rule, adhere to an ends justifies the means mentality and are willing to back fellow liberals no matter what the offense may be.

Mr. Horton does not seem to understand this subtle difference between the two ideological camps. If Rush Limbaugh, CY, or Malkin simply state something in error their audience will quickly hold those pundits accountable for a correction. If those same pundits would willfully state something in error that same audience will simply stop being an audience. Maybe that is the big difference between Conservative and Liberal.?

When one holds to a relativistic morality were only Conservative is a quantifiable wrong, truth becomes subjective.

Posted by: Mekan at August 27, 2007 03:01 PM

Hmmm... Antiwar Radio. Scott Horton. Christopher Deliso. And a book called Spinning on the Axis of Evil.

Could Scott II in defending TNR and Scott I, be paraphrasing Scott III - Scott Taylor of Canada? Some passages sound eerily - similar. This summary by Deliso is a perfect summation of anti-troop asshattery, there must be a framed version available to the new up and coming leftards:

"Spinning on the Axis of Evil's analysis of US government propaganda is particularly amusing when Taylor quotes US military personnel, some of whom spout the kind of G.I. Joe bravado that gives the army a bad reputation abroad. We are treated to the remarkably incongruous sight of a tank full of "good ole' boy" rednecks sporting a Confederate flag, speeding along right behind another one manned by black soldiers blasting gangsta rap (p. 203). Then there is the tough-talking Special Forces soldier in Turkey who bloviates, "when George Bush, our Commander in Chief, tells us to start the music, we are going to rock and roll" (p. 162).

However, when the same soldiers had to face the music they started, their perceptions changed. Taylor's final interviews (from September 2003) offer poignant glimpses of American soldiers' present reality, demoralized, far from home and in constant danger. We hear from the grumpy sergeant who complains that he and his men are booze and sex-starved (p. 213), about female solders getting "knocked up" just to get out of Iraq (p. 214), and the tank commander who muses on his statistical rate of being killed in battle (p. 213), while hoping to someday go home and "…forget forever that there is a place on earth called Iraq."

Posted by: Enlightened at August 27, 2007 03:32 PM

How about this blog - scroll down to roughly paragraph 10 on the March 29, 2007 entry named "Opposing views on the War on Terror"

Hmmm. Sounds like some soldiers actually wrote them. Is Scott Horton implying these soldiers lied? And that since they did TNR was merely following suit by printing their version of homegrown, employee-fed lies?

Posted by: Enlightened at August 27, 2007 03:57 PM

Ok, and here might be the reporter's account:

ABC's Terry McCarthy: "Children have come out to play again. Shoppers are back in markets. A few devout souls even venture past the barbed wire to pray. Baghdad is still rocked by car bombs every day. But right in the center of the city, a small area of relative calm is starting to grow, thanks to stepped up U.S. patrols and increased Iraqi checkpoints. Nowhere is safe for Westerners to linger, but over the past week we visited five different neighborhoods where the locals told us life is slowly coming back to normal. We started in what used to be one of the most dangerous parts of the city. This is Haifa Street, otherwise known as ‘Sniper Street.' Until two months ago, a major battleground between U.S. troops and insurgents. Today, people who live on Haifa Street tell us it is quiet - or at least quiet enough for them to venture back out on to the street. At a tea shop, these men actually asked us to film them to show things are getting better. In Babil, we stopped for ice cream, 20 cents a scoop. The owner here, Mohamed Hassan, tells us security is improving in this part of Baghdad just in time for the summer, which is, of course, when they make most of their money. Hussein Jihad has a clothing store in Karada. ‘When people heard that it was safe,' says Hussein, ‘they started coming out and spending money again.' We found a mosque in Zayouna that had been fire-bombed. Now, open for prayer. And in Zawra, Baghdad's biggest amusement park is running again. People feel safe to bring their kids here, and have fun on a Friday afternoon. For us, it is really great to see people in Baghdad having fun. ‘It's safe here,' says 12-year-old Abdullah. ‘There used to be some bullets, but not anymore.' Nobody knows if this small safe zone will expand or get swallowed up again by violence. For the time being, though, people here are happy to enjoy a life that looks almost normal."

This and the previous link I gave you all occurred around springtime this year - like you suspected. This year. Not when Horton was in Baghdad?

Addendum: Somehow I think this is linked to McCain's trip.

Posted by: Enlightened at August 27, 2007 04:16 PM

Enlightened - I saw that Scott Horton at and thought based on the bio it might be a different person. Just a thought.

Posted by: daleyrocks at August 27, 2007 04:23 PM

Yep, they are not the same person, but the rhetoric and talking points are pretty much identical.

Antiwar Radio: Scott Horton Interviews Scott Horton
Monday, May 21st, 2007 in News, Civil liberties, War crimes, War on Terror, Politics, Antiwar Radio, Guantánamo by Scott Horton| Comment |

International human rights attorney and author of the blog No Comment at, The Other Scott Horton (no relation), discusses the revolution within the form of American government that has occurred in the last six years in the name of the all powerful “Unitary Executive”: Kidnapping, torture, massive domestic wiretapping, the replacement of U.S. attorneys who don’t do a good enough job prosecuting Democrats, and why Goerge Washington’s system was better.

Posted by: Enlightened at August 27, 2007 04:55 PM

Of course, a disinterested pursuer of truth like Scott Horton doesn't respond to requests for clarification from thuggish neocons!

It's a circular argument, you see? Any critic of Scott Horton is, by definition, not to be trusted.

Posted by: Ali-Bubba at August 27, 2007 05:16 PM
Any critic of Scott Horton is, by definition, not to be trusted.

And anyone who does not agree with Scott Horton is, by his definition, a "neocon."

Posted by: C-C-G at August 27, 2007 07:13 PM

Sorry but my comment/question is a liitle off the subject, but I find it incredulous just the same. Is there really a street in Baghdad, a very pronounced muslim city named "Haifa"? Haifa, (the same exact spelling to the best of my knowledge) is the name of a very prominent city and port in Israel to which I have visited on numerous occasions. If there is such a street, was it always known as Haifa Street or was it renamed after the U.S.intercession in 2003?

Posted by: Tom McKenzie at August 27, 2007 11:44 PM

"I like dealing with rightists. They tell you what they really think, unlike the leftists who say one thing and mean another."

A quote from that infamous neocon tool and fellow traveller, Mao Tse-Tung.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at August 27, 2007 11:48 PM

Of course, I could be wrong, and if events prove me such, will have no difficulty acknowledging it, but I suspect that Mr. Horton's accusation of neocon lies was of the "everyone knows they do, so no proof is required beyond my statement of truthiness," type rather than the "I know neocons lie because I have actual proof," variety.

Mr. Horton may now realize that while virtually everyone with whom he associates is of a certain left-leaning mindset, a mindset wherein Mr. Horton's comments were merely preaching to the choir, not everyone in the world is a member of that choir and might be so impolite as to ask for actual, verifiable facts of the kind that have proved so troublesome to Franklin Foer and his merry band at The New Republic.

Harper's may not be far behind in the race to the journalistic bottom.

Posted by: Mike at August 28, 2007 12:19 AM


What you said.

And no, do not hold your breath for a reply from either Mr. Horton or Ms. Melucci, or anyone else at Harper's for that matter.

Ain't gonna' happen.

What might happen is a series of further attacks on the likes of CY, WS, or those dangerous "neo-con" thugs.

BTW, what is going to happen when Hillary! becomes POTUS, the House and Senate are controlled by the Democrats, and the war continues?


Another "Neo-con" plot?

Just askin'.

Of course, the Hillary! administration may just surrender to Al Qaeda, Iran, and their proxies (Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.) thereby ending the war but not the violence.

It could happen.

Or not.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: MTT at August 28, 2007 09:52 AM

A neocon lying about Iraq??? Now I've heard everything!

Posted by: Luke at August 28, 2007 09:59 AM

This whole story stinks. Whether Mr. Horton's original story was true or not, it speaks volumes as to his journalistic credibility. Either Mr. Horton fabricated the entire story, or he remained silent when a fellow journalist fabricated an entire story (at least until Mr. Horton could use the story to bolster his ideological argument.)

How are we not to assume that Mr. Horton’s view of journalism is to put ideology before facts even in his belated condemnation of this yet unknown other journalist?

Posted by: Brian at August 28, 2007 10:35 AM

Could a cross reference be made between the dates that this guy was in "the sub" and the reporting of the 'unconfirmed necon'? If it is known when this Harper's guy was there, and there would have to be a record of violence on those days keeping reporters off the street... I would think anyway. Or does fuzzy recall become the refuge? Don't take notes or keep records and all is "I don't recall" after that. This sounds like another 'Bochump' to me... and he is not comfortable with answering cause whatever he says now will go under a microscope. You should be ashamed for making this poor workman for the people feel bad about telling lies that are for the good of all.

Posted by: Donald Giannatti at August 28, 2007 11:00 AM
Or does fuzzy recall become the refuge?

Not after Scooter Libby. He got convicted for fuzzy recall.

Oh, silly me, I forgot... that law only applies to the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil Wepubwicans, not to upstanding Demogogues... er... Democrats.

Posted by: C-C-G at August 28, 2007 07:04 PM

I find this man's comments questionable for several reasons. Are we to believe he sat around in an area where gun battles were taking place all day, yet he couldn't provide any details. His minders just thought this was a wonderful place to park him whiule they drank green tea?

That ll the pro war stories are just fluff although again no specifics. Sounds like this man is an idiot. By the way Haifa Street would hardly be conjured by to invoke 5th Avenue or Rodeo Drive, its a street with businesses and cafes located in what passes in Baghdad as an upper middle class neighborhood. This would mean you'd have to live in Camden NJ to consider this upscale.

Posted by: Thomas Jackson at August 29, 2007 06:25 PM

Horton seems to be playing the equivalence card that the leftists do so well. i.e. If I can show that the right is lying about Iraq than it's okay for the left to lie about Iraq. That's their (the left) version of 'balanced' reporting.

Posted by: czekmark at August 29, 2007 10:28 PM

So, any response from Horton? Or his editor? We need a followup! :-)

Posted by: Greg at August 30, 2007 05:08 AM